I wrote this poem four years ago, when I was struggling with the temptation to give up writing. I nearly did give it up. I began to study painting intead, and I barely wrote for at least a year. The artwork, however, was enough to keep the flame flickering, and two and a half years ago, I started writing The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte. Now, in two weeks, I will have achieved my lifelong dream of having a novel published.
If you have a calling, think long and hard before you ever decide to give it up.
In a rocky cleft
beneath the willows,
burns a quavering blue flame
that I alone must tend,
arcing my body into a canopy
when the rain pelts
or smothering snow falls.
In all weathers I must feed the fire
scraps of paper, broken pencils,
and fingernails torn as I scratch and claw
through the bricklike clay of my spirit,
hardened by years of rejection,
yet fertile still when gently watered.
Dig through unyielding earth for
wood chips, abandoned cardboard,
any and all refuse
that might feed this insatiable muse,